About that comment


What's new in comments about comments. The debate on anonymous comments on websites continues while publisher retool or junk their comment systems. Meanwhile, a few interesting new experiments are happening.

See the bigger list of links on comments.

General Dynamics tank manufactureHere's another incredible example of the government's trampling of the rights of photojournalists.

The Toledo Blade filed suit Friday after the Army security personnel detained two journalists outside a tank plan in Lima, Ohio. Cameras were confiscated and some photos deleted.

The incident occurred March 28 at a General Dynamics plant.

The lawsuit claims the newspaper employees were unlawfully detained, that one  was unlawfully restrained and received threats of bodily harm, that cameras were unlawfully confiscated and images unlawfully destroyed, and that their Constitutional rights were unlawfully prevented from being exercised.

Was this part of some newspaper uncover project? Nope. They were in Lima covering a press conference at a Ford automotive plant and, while they were in town, they went around taking photos of businesses as file art for future stories.

They were outside the plant's fence and took photos from public property, the newspaper said.

One of the employees, a female photographer, was held in handcuffs for over an hour. One officer said to her "You say you are a female, I'm going to go under your bra," the newspaper reported.

There have been a string of incidents involving law enforcement officers confiscating cameras or interferring with photographers. At times, it almost seems there is a not-so-secret government war on photojournalism.

Skillz for journalists


Good news for training in the newsroom.

The Poynter Institute and the E.W. Scripps Co. today announced a long-term agreement that will provide customized training for staff members in the Scripps newspaper division.

See the release. And this is but one component of a larger training agenda for Scripps newsrooms.

Digital paywalls are the newspaper model now


Paid Content at Newspapers2013 was the year when paywalls became the norm for newspapers.

70 percent of newspapers now have some sort of paywall (see pie chart on right), according to a survey by the Reynolds Journalism Institute. That's up from 41 percent in 2011 and 47 percent in 2012.

Consumers are still adjusting.

Newspapers are not using just one model and are changing the business rules in search of the sweet spot of subscriptions and audience. But don't expect the walls to falls.

In the Reynolds survey, publishers generally said: "We should have done it sooner."

While there are few experiments, don't expect a similar rush to paywalls by TV website owners or digital only startups.

FOIA Machine

Have you tried the alpha FOIA Machine?

It's from the Center for Investigative Reporting with funding from the Knight Foundation (some $47,000) and a Kickstarter campaign? Investigative reporter Djordje Padejski got the project going

Here are some tips on using it.

The Center for Investigative Reporting calls the FOIA machine the "TurboTax for government records." 

Bot journalist reported California quake first


Ken Schwencke, a journalist and programmer for the Los Angeles Times, was jolted awake at 6:25 a.m. on Monday by an earthquake. He rolled out of bed and went straight to his computer, where he found a brief story about the quake already written and waiting in the system. He glanced over the text and hit "publish." And that's how the LAT became the first media outlet to report on this morning's temblor. "I think we had it up within three minutes," Schwencke told me.

-- Slate

The story was "written" by a program called Quakebot which Schwencke created some three years ago. Here's the Bot story. While not award-winning journalism, it got the news out.